For many people growing up in a domestic atmosphere our first experience with terror is through a horror film. D-L Alvarez, an Oakland based artist, explores the peculiar role that horror plays in our lives and the spaces it inhabits. He recreates imagery from Hollywood's most iconic horror films as seen through a screen that has started to degenerate.
Alvarez's collection, "The Closet," features climactic moments from John Carpenter's 1978 classic film "Halloween", often showing a young Jamie Lee Curtis in moments of pure fear. The film revolves around Curtis' escape from Michael Meyers, a silent psychopath who wears a smooth white mask and walks slowly. Yet Alvarez's graphite renderings are pixelated into obscurity, as if the screen on which you were watching "Halloween" became glitchy, out of date, or perhaps haunted. The fabricated technological degeneration obscures both killer and victim's faces into masks, alerting us as to the constructed nature of the entire fear-inducing event. Drawing attention to the screen's presence, Alvarez suggests that the experience of fear is the simulation of fear.
Alvarez draws a parallel between the rise of mentally unstable criminals on the screen to the real-life transformation of the social psyche following the Manson Family murders. While throughout the 1960s difference was praised and norms were shunned, this shockingly gruesome occurrence awakened Americans to the importance of social norms. Thus the weirdo and the deviant became symbols of horror and the home became a site of safety, where horror was only simulated on the screen.
The second series of the exhibition is called "Something To Cry About (I and II)" and features patchwork bodysuits draped over wooden armatures. The suits simultaneously recall a children's pajama onesie and the corpse-skin suits made by notorious psychopathic murderer Ed Gein. The installation explores the relationship between the extremes of innocence and corruption, and the domestic spaces in which one sleeps and another lurks. While in "Closet," fear is something fabricated via film, "Something To Cry About" featured Gein as a true specimen of horror, inspiring cinematic characters for years to come.
D-L Alvarez / MATRIX 243 will show at the Berkeley Art Museum/ Pacific Film Archive until October 7, 2012.
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